Design Challenge


In January we put out a call to those interested in a design challenge.  We offered up identical boxes of vintage jewellery making supplies from CJS Sales in New York City.  Each designer received the same collection and could make whatever they wanted to.  The only parameters were:
-You can use the materials you were sent any way you want and with any media. 
-Must use 4 pieces of design kit in your finished piece. (1 piece = 1 bead, 1 component, or 1″ of chain)

Twenty packages of vintage jewellery components went out to artists in 4 different countries!

Our Judge: Donna Greenberg, a mixed media artist from New Jersey.  She enjoys mixing materials, colours, and textures in her jewelry and sculptures in unexpected ways. “Pairing smooth, dull surfaces with a coarse piece of glittering pyrite; delicate pearls perched in a volcanic explosion of highly textured polymer; low end man made materials paired with the luxury of silver or bronze are the kind of studies that gets my heart beating loudly. The thrill for me is in balancing these diverse elements into a cohesive statement.”

And the winner is…. Joy Funnell from the U.K. with her piece “Eastern Promise”.  From the vintage supplies, Joy used two antique Czech glass cabochons, and two brass jewelry parts from the 1950’s.  She also used sterling silver chain, silver metal clay, sterling silver wire, red glass beads and red thread.
Judge’s remarks: “Quite simply, this piece just stopped me in my tracks. I completely forgot to look for the individual elements used and just observed the tension and energy of the piece as a whole. Afterwards, upon ‘dissecting’ the design it revealed a fascinating balance of form, color and materials that seemed like they should be at odds with each other but unite beautifully. It has the quality of a fine classic piece of jewelry, with Deco undertones among other things yet feels contemporary all at once. It’s timeless to me.”

We had a two-way tie for 2nd place between Laura Moore and Karen Wright.

Laura Moore, Ginkgo pendant necklace.  Laura combined metal clay, 3 glass peacock arches, 2 glass golden octagon drop beads, 1 woven brass mesh strap.

Judge’s comments: “The rhythm, line and movement in this necklace were the first things that attracted me. It’s a very elegant piece that I imagine enhances the wearers neck area gracefully. The negative space is important here and just as interesting as the beautifully crafted hand worked areas, and the warm glow of the stones appear to float in their own individual space.”

2nd Place tie: Karen Wright, “Art Deco”. Karen used 15 antique glass cabochons and 3 vintage crystals in her piece along with meters and meters of wire, jump-rings and chain.

Judge’s comments: “An unusual interpretation of  a classic Art Deco design. Especially the unexpected use of wire wrapping techniques which gives this piece a lighter, more contemporary feel.  An interesting feature in this necklace is that is has 2 distinct focal points, each addressing a different part of the body.  Not always an easy thing to achieve.  The trio of  wrapped amber stones  on the top  flatters the  wearers upper neck  and face.  While the black  drop dangle leads the eye downwards towards the chest area and beyond.  The double strand spray of small black beads in between connects it all  while creating a classic deco sunburst design.”

Honourable Mentions:

Stephania Harden-Martin, Necklace and Earring set. Stephania used chain, 4 brass jewellery components and the brass wire flower from the design kit materials.

Judge’s Comments: “Mixing metals and chain styles works well for this piece and helps give it a quirky, easy going feeling.  The  wire mesh  flower is nicely anchored by the looped end petals, or are they rays or tentacles, creating a bit of a guessing game as to whether the  focal is actually meant to represent flora or fauna, or both.  The earrings are a perfect accompaniment to the necklace and would look well on their own as well.”

Mona Arnott, Necklace and Earring Set. From the design challenge vintage supplies, Mona used two brass wire flowers, a woven chain and created a pendant using 9 pieces of black glass components and a brass cup.
Judge’s Comments:Existing  individual small black elements have been carefully chosen and  cleverly arranged to create a simple but classic focal design.  The gloss black is set off nicely by the more satin gold mesh and the choice of the flat chain helps reinforce the focal’s raised look.  This piece can seem ancient in design at one moment, like a roman medallion  or something art moderne.”


And what would our judge make if she had the same vintage components? These pieces were made by Donna Greenberg, using the same pieces of vintage supplies as our designers from the challenge had. Thank you to all who took part.  It was nice to be a part of a group project like this and to see how each artist interpreted the same materials in their own style!


CJS Sales:
Donna Greenberg:


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